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“College” Word, Its Meaning and Applications Essay

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Updated: Jun 6th, 2021


Education’s importance is one of the priorities in modern society. Parents try to provide their children with the best options, find money to pay for their education and choose among the existing options. It is not a surprise to observe how often people use the word “college” in their communication. Students consider “college” as a place where they have to spend some time, obtain new knowledge, and develop various skills. Parents believe it is a period of life when multiple changes occur to their children. However, “college” has many more meanings, and this paper focuses on the discussion of its meaning, application in different sources, and its importance in everyday use.


One of the easiest and fastest ways to find a definition of the word is to surf the web and choose an available dictionary. In the Cambridge Dictionary, one of the ways to define “college” is to consider it as “a university where you can study for an undergraduate (= first) degree” or “any place for specialized education after the age of 16 where people study or train to get knowledge and/or skills” (“College,” n.d.a).

Still, to understand the true meaning of this word, it is expected to develop thorough research and check its use in different sources. For example, a future project has to include such a definition of “college” as “a group of people with a particular job, purpose, duty, or power” (“College,” n.d.a). In another dictionary, Your Dictionary, a college is defined as a “place of higher learning after high school that provides education and grants degrees or certification” (“College,” n.d.b). Each meaning is correct, which makes “college” a unique word for analysis.


In the article where this word was found, college was used as a place chosen by parents for their children to receive education and develop skills. Every individual is free to understand and treat this word in a variety of ways. For example, the authors of old sources used this word in another meaning, a group of people. In his historical guide, Lewis (2015) said that “Pope Clement VII formalized this when he created a college of administrators whose duty it was to help build and administer the basilica” (p. 76).

Although this definition is approved by the Cambridge writer, I believe that such an application has to be re-evaluated, taking into consideration current needs, knowledge, and attitudes. There are many other synonyms to introduce a group of people with the same interests and duties, and “college” has to be regarded as a place for students to study and get their degrees.

Still, even if a college is interpreted as a place for education, there are many controversies and disputes around this word. In one of the online articles, I found the definition of a college as “the only home they have” and the author’s disagreement with a person who gave such an explanation (Friedersdorf, 2016). I agree with the author that it is wrong to believe that it can be a home for someone even if people spend much of their time there. A college is a place or a real building where students receive knowledge, and teachers study young people. It can be a new stage in someone’s life or a temporary residence but never a home.

I am not also sure about the correctness or appropriateness of the word phrase “college readiness (or ready for college”. McConville (2018) admitted that anxious parents worry that “their high-school graduate won’t be ready for college”. In this article, I disagree with the two meanings of the word “college”. First, college is not a task or a test for which an individual has to be prepared. It is a place where knowledge is obtained or a learning process, and the task of a student is to use it but not try to be ready for something. Second, in many sources, college is defined as a place where students receive education after high school.

It means that a person, who was not able to go to school but wants to get a college degree, having all the necessary qualities and knowledge, cannot be a college student. Almost the same situation happens to an individual who finished high school long ago but made a decision to have a certification at the age of 40. According to the definitions given, a college is not an appropriate place for not-high-school graduates to continue their education.

In all these cases, the word “college” may have different meanings, and each of them is correct. Still, it is the right of people to accept a definition or not, and I decide to consider a “college” as a temporary place for a person (of any age) to receive knowledge and a degree. I assume that it is wrong to treat a college as a home or a group of people with common goals and attitudes. The sooner people realize college worth and choose one definition, the better.


The role of college in human life cannot be diminished or ignored. Today, millions of people want to choose the best college with the best teachers. In many cases, parents are ready to pay a lot. However, such an obsession with elite colleges and statuses results in scandals and disappointment (Quintana, 2019). It is recommended to investigate the history of the word “college” and clarify why the place for education turns into the reason for a new scandal.


This paper is a good opportunity to realize why the analysis of the meaning of a word can play a role in understanding people and their behaviors. A college is something many young people strive for, and their present decisions determine their future careers and plans. Beginning with the meaning of the word “college” is a necessary step for current and future students in their learning process and enhancing their expectations and dreams. The uniqueness of this project lies in the possibility to combine lexicology, psychology, and sociology to improve human behaviors and relationships.


College. (n.d.a) In Cambridge dictionary. Web.

College. (n.d.b). In Your dictionary. Web.

Friedersdorf, C. (2016). A college is a community but cannot be a home. The Atlantic. Web.

Lewis, J. (2015). A holy year in Rome: The complete pilgrim’s guide for the year of mercy. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.

McConville, M. (2018). . The New York Times. Web.

Quintana, C. (2019). . USA Today. Web.

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